Father shares son's miraculous survival story.
MIAMI – Sunday's cold front moving through Ottawa County left hazardous roadways and multiple motorists in the ditch and some injured. The icy roadways forced several area schools to close for a snow day Monday, Feb. 5, including, Northeast Technology Center in Afton, NEO A& M College, Welch, Fairland, Quapaw, Wyandotte, Commerce, and Miami Public Schools.
It was a busy afternoon and evening Sunday, Feb. 4, and on into Monday morning for area law enforcement and emergency responders.
US Highway 60 eastbound between Wyandotte and the Missouri State line was closed due to trucks sliding sideways on the icy roadway blocking lanes from approximately 7:19 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m., according to the Wyandotte Nation Police Department.
“The rapidly deteriorating road conditions resulted in several significant crashes in a short period of time in the Wyandotte area. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries,” Wyandotte Nation Police Chief Ken Murphy said. “Crashes coupled with tractor trailers unable to get traction to climb high grades resulted in Hwy. 60 being closed or delayed for most of the evening. Much of this traffic had been diverted off the turnpike due to crashes there.”
“We assisted and worked many accidents,” Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd said. “Multiple tractor trailer trucks causing traffic blockage and interrupting flow on Hwy. 60, also traffic was blocked then narrowed down to a single lane north of Quapaw on Hwy. 69. Anytime the eastbound on the turnpike becomes blocked due to an accident, traffic is routed onto Hwy. 60 causing issues as well.”
With another round of precipitation and bad weather possibly bringing more hazardous traveling conditions, law enforcement and emergency workers are reminding drivers to follow travel precautions.
The National Weather Service is predicting more wintry precipitation, one to two inches of snow mixed with sleet late Tuesday afternoon into the evening, mainly north of I-40 and south of I-44. Light ice and snow accumulations will likely lead to slick spots on roadways, especially bridges and overpasses.
“When roads become slick, drivers must slow down and increase following distances, and if at all possible, stay off the roads,” Murphy said. “ We may get another round tomorrow so we hope everyone plans ahead and avoids unnecessary travel. “
During Sunday’s round of ice and snow, the Will Rogers Turnpike's eastbound lanes were closed backing up and rerouting traffic due to accidents at Mile Markers 311 and 321.
Will Rogers Turnpike MM 311
OHP reports OHP Troopers responded to an injury accident at Will Rogers Turnpike/I-44 at Mile Marker 311 involving two semis and several other vehicles at 3:46 p.m. OHP does not file a report with non injury accidents when no one is admitted to a hospital or a fatality does not occur, so according to OHP’s spokesperson no official report is available on this specific event, and no other details are available.
Tim Shannon’s, nine-year-old son Kutler was riding with his mother and sister in another vehicle on I-44 on their way to meet him for a visit drop off in Mount Vernon, Missouri when they were involved in the Mile Marker 311 accident.
Kutler, and his mother and sister, miraculously survived when a semi tractor-trailer drove over their vehicle from behind.
Shannon, a professional angler from Salem, Arkansas and owner of a company called PondPro spends much of his time outdoors and said he was shocked by the fast development of the ice and snowstorm.
“We were leaving Salem and it was literally 50 degrees and sunshine. We got to about Willow Springs and it started kind of just, really not even a dusting at all, just flurrying, and by the time we got to Rogersville it had dropped to 17 degrees and it was a blizzard and solid ice,” Shannon said. “It was just crazy the way the weather changed. I’ve never seen anything like it. By the time we got to Springfield it was complete pandemonium. By the time we got to Campbell on the interstate is when his Mom called and said they were in an accident, and she was panicking.”
Shannon said Kutler’s mother gave the phone to a truck driver who spoke with him telling him about the accident and assuring Shannon his son and the others weren’t seriously harmed.
“He said, ‘I’m going to send you pictures, but you need to know everyone’s okay,’” Shannon said. "So we kept on driving and we made it all the way to the hospital. We got in there to the room and of course, he was beat up real bad. He’s got a fractured eye socket, and a fractured nose, and bumps and bruises on the back of his head and his body.”
Kutler was taken to a Joplin hospital and treated. Shannon said his son never cried once.
“Honestly all he cared about was making sure his little sister was okay and that she was out and that his mom was okay,” Shannon said. “He was a little mad his hoverboard got destroyed.”
"Kutler said they were stopped in traffic and his DVD player had quit and he reached over to grab the remote and his mom was trying to help. She was leaned over and that’s when the truck literally drove over the whole side of their car,” Shannon said. “Kutler said that it shoved him down to the floorboard. His Mom is just as lucky, because had she not been leaned over she would have went straight into the back of the corner of that trailer, and Kenley, his sister, she’s five, has a little bitty rug burn on the side of her nose, that was it.”
Kutler remained at the hospital from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but was released by doctors with the expectation of full recovery, as well as his mother and sister.
Shannon says seeing the photos of the wreckage brought him to his knees.
“We didn’t realize how bad the wreck was until about 10 minutes before he was discharged when the truck driver sent us the pictures,” Shannon said, his voice breaking with overwhelming emotion. “That’s when it hit me how bad it could have been. God is good! Kutler is going to be just fine. He’s a little sore, but we’ll get him all fixed up and he’ll get to lay around and cuddle with me for a few days. I’m telling you, God is good, that’s the only explanation and like my post says on Facebook, if you want to know why we pray, you just look at these pictures.”
Will Rogers Turnpike MM 321
Another accident backed up traffic for some time Sunday and left a Pittsburg, Mo. Couple injured. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports on 2:20 p.m. on Feb. 4, a 2004 Nissan Titan pickup towing a camper trailer driven by James D. McMullan, 58, of Pittsburg, Missouri lost control on a snow-covered bridge on the Will Rogers Turnpike/I-44 at Mile Marker 321, approximately nine miles east of Miami in Ottawa County.
McMullan's vehicle struck a concrete barrier wall and departed the roadway to the right and rolled approximately three times before coming to rest on the passenger side, according to OHP Trooper Ben Bertram's report.
The trailer separated from the pickup pulling it and remained in the roadway blocking both lanes of eastbound traffic.
McMullan was transported by Quapaw Tribe EMS to Mercy Hospital in Joplin and admitted in fair condition with head and internal and external injuries.
McMullan's passenger, Bridget A. McMullan, 57, also of Pittsburg, was transported by Quapaw Tribe EMS to Mercy Hospital in Joplin and admitted in fair condition with head and internal and external trunk injuries.
The OHP report lists the cause of the collision as "traveling at unsafe speed for ice and snow on roadway." Seatbelts were equipped but not in use by either occupant of the vehicle according to OHP. The truck was equipped with an airbag, which did deploy.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.